McGill University's interdisciplinary North American Studies Program was founded in 1968 by McGill Professors P.D. Marshall, Department of History, and Peter Buitenhuis, Department of English. Today, more than 30 years later, the program, chaired by Prof. Tom Velk from the Department of Economics, continues to grow and expand. It currently offers a Minor and a Major Concentration in North American Studies as well as opportunities for students to participate in an exchange or study abroad program with or without an internship. In prior years, the North American Studies Program has offered special programs, including a symposium on 19th-century America, an examination of Canadian federalism, as well as repeated investigations of NAFTA and the North American free trade issues.
The aim of the program is to give undergraduate students a comprehensive view of the growth and achievements of North American civilization by focusing on the similarities of the North American peoples. Students are taking courses in the areas of North American history, literature, politics and economics, which offer training in a variety of methodologies and experience in research and writing in different disciplines. Even though students can customize their program, a required seminar is offered to students enrolled in the North American Studies Major Concentration. The goal of the required seminar is to bring students in the field together and to cap their studies.
Since the interdisciplinary nature allows students to customize the program to fit their individual career goals, the North American Studies Program attracts students with career goals in a number of different areas, such as journalism, law, the public service, the foreign service, and politics.